Running is one of the most accessible fitness activities to get involved in. All it really takes is some space, comfortable clothing, and a good pair of running shoes. While we all have our preference on clothing, one thing that is absolutely essential is a comfortable, well-fitting pair of shoes. The proper shoe will reduce your risk for injury and keep you comfortable while running.

There are dozens of brands with hundreds of models to choose from. From bright pink to gray, you can choose virtually any shoe to be as stylish as you want. Unfortunately, style should not be your main objective when picking a running shoe. The size and shape of your foot, along with the type of runner you are, should dictate which shoe you purchase.

The first step is figuring out your foot type. Generally, there are three types of feet. Most but not all people fall into one of these catagories. Flat feet tend to have fallen flexible arches making them prone to rolling inwards while running. Neutral feet are biomechanically sound and neutral. High arched feet have well defined rigid arches that force the runner into landing on the outside edge of the foot. You can determine which type of foot you have by wetting your foot and stepping on a piece of paper. The more of your arch that you see on the paper, the lower your arch is. The less of your arch on the paper, the higher it is. While this technique doesn’t necessarily determine the flexibility of your foot, it will send you in the right direction.

Once you have a general idea about your foot type, choose your shoe type. A flat flexible foot should look into a higher stability shoe that will control over pronation. Neutral runners should try a moderate stability shoe. Lastly, high arched runners need to look at a cushioned shoe with flexibility.

If you feel overwhelmed by the process, find a running specialty store. Often times, they have qualified sales people that can analyze your foot and running technique. They can then suggest the best shoes for you. Finally, remember that the most expensive shoe might not be the best shoe for your foot. Buy the shoe for your foot, not the prettiest or flashiest shoe!